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My 'Middle-Aged' Baby Book: A Record of Milestones, Millstones and Gallstones.

Middle age delivers a unique (and unwelcome) set of firsts, including love handles, memory lapses, gray hair, and varicose veins. A new book lightheartedly chronicles our second childhood.

Warning: One look at the cover and you're hooked. What you read is this:

The title: My `Middle-Aged' Baby Book. The subtitle: A Record of Milestones, Millstones and Gallstones. The author: Mary-Lou Weisman. A blurb by the late Erma Bombeck: "A perfect gift for middle-agers and those in denial."

You'll find--encircling the edges of the book--enlightening clues to what lies within the 80 illustrated pages: "My first root canal," "My bedtime bottle," "My first second mortgage," "My favorite toy" (a red convertible), "My proctologist," "My favorite reading glasses," and "My family tree" (from which you'll note a plug has been sawed).

The book, as you might by this time suspect, is recommended for readers aged 40 and over--as far over as you happen to be. It is for those readers who've begun to wonder why their gums recede, who keep Tums in their pocket and Mylanta in their drawer, and who have their proctologist's phone number on speed dial. It's for those whose vital statistics include circumference of abdomen, whose teething records include implants, gold crowns, and caps. It's for those who talk about their firsts--first colonoscopy, first conservative opinion, first gray hair, first involuntary release of urine while sneezing, and so on.

Among Paul Meisel's clever illustrations is a half-male, half-female figure beneath the line: See how I've grown. On the male side, reading from top to toe, we are directed to eye flaps, turkey neck, elbow flaps, pot belly, love handles, enlarged prostate, and corns. On the female side, we have dewlaps, liver spots, swag arms, pendulous breasts, piles, knee flaps, and varicose veins.

Needless to say, My `Middle-Aged' Baby Book is not for sissies. "There is nothing wonderful about the behavior of gravity on the human body," the 58-year-old Weisman warns the under40 age group.

One interviewer was bold enough to ask the humorist how she came to write the book. Her answer is pure Weisman.

"I never had a real baby book," she says. "I was a second child, so my mother wrote in the margins of my sister's book. And I was never as good as her--I was shorter, my teeth came in slower, I walked later. I still have that book, and it's been my inspiration. And now I have my revenge--my own baby book."

Weisman delights in pointing out the similarities between babyhood and middle age. Both have varying amounts of hair and teeth. Both eat a lot of finger foods. Both dress in comfy pastel romper suits ("middle-aged babies call them `sweats'"). Middle-aged babies play with cars--vroom, vroom. Both like to throw balls up in the air ("the middle-agers call it tennis").

Asked why people forget in middle age, Weisman explains that we are losing our minds. "Little pieces of mind called neurons fly out of our heads daily in large numbers." she says. "It doesn't help to wear a hat."

This insight may explain the page of "Acknowledgments" in which the author states:

"First I want to thank my editor, Ruth... darn! It's right on the tip of my tongue.... Oh, and I especially appreciate the expertise of gastroenterologist Dr. Harvey... ummm, Harvey.... And, of course, the host of friends too unforgettable to mention, not the least of whom is my patient, supportive husband ... what's his name? ..."

The book contains 34 chapters. Among them: "Am I Smiling? (or is it gas?)," "Toilet Training," "When I Grow Up," "Am I a Boy or a Girl?" "My Bedtime Ritual," "See What I've Grown," and "Sex?" The following chapter will give you the idea.

Afterword: If it's true that laughter adds years to your middle age, this should do it.
COPYRIGHT 1996 Saturday Evening Post Society
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Copyright 1996 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Stoddard, Maynard Good
Publication:Saturday Evening Post
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Nov 1, 1996
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